Ole Miss To Add Five To The M-Club Athletic Hall Of Fame Saturday
Sept. 10, 2003
OXFORD, Miss. - Ole Miss will honor five former student-athletes for their achievements on the field and in the classroom this Saturday in pregame ceremonies at the Ole Miss football game against Louisiana-Monroe.
An induction ceremony will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday at the Butler Auditorium in the Triplett Alumni Center.
Each year since 1986, former student-athletes have been selected by their peers for induction into the M-Club Athletic Hall of Fame. Inductees for 2003 include: Tony Bennett, Marie Laure Bougnol, Kyle Gordon, Kimsey O'Neal Cooper and Ralph Spry.
Tony Bennett proved to a major obstacle for Rebel football opponents throughout his career from 1986-89. The Alligator, Miss., native helped lead Ole Miss to 24 victories, two bowl wins (1986 Independence; 1989 Liberty) and three Egg Bowl triumphs over rival Mississippi State. Bennett, who may have been known better by his nickname "Gator," played three different positions during his career, seeing action at defensive end as a freshman, noseguard as a sophomore and linebacker as a junior and senior. He finished his career with 207 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 11 quarterback sacks.
As a junior, Bennett led the team with seven sacks, was second with six tackles for loss and sixth with 61 total hits. His senior campaign - when he served as co-captain - saw Bennett lead the squad with 11 tackles for loss and was fifth in tackles with 77. Following his senior season, he earned All-SEC first team honors from the league's coaches and UPI, and was an All-SEC second team pick by The Associated Press. He also played in the 1989 Senior Bowl, and was later named to the All-Senior Bowl Dream Team in 1994.
In 1990, "Gator" became the 10th player in the program's history to be an NFL first-round draft pick, selected 18th overall by the Green Bay Packers. He played with the Packers from 1990-93 and the Indianapolis Colts from 1994-97. In 1993, Bennett was honored with his selection at linebacker to the Ole Miss Team of the Century (1893-1992).
"It was a real shock to me when I got the call telling me I had been selected for induction," said Bennett. "I look back and don't think I really did a whole lot compared to what players like Freddie Joe Nunn did around the same time. It's a great honor for me just to be nominated, much less selected for induction."
Marie-Laure Bougnol enjoyed success on and off the court during her stellar career at Ole Miss. A native of Marseille, France, Bougnol is one of only four players in Lady Rebel tennis history to earn All-America honors three times during a career, receiving the accolade in 1993, 1994 and 1996. Bougnol was a four-time participant at the NCAA Championships, advancing to the doubles semifinals in 1993 with teammate Pascale Piquemal. She also teamed with Piquemal to reach the 1994 NCAA doubles final, which was nationally televised. A three-time All-SEC performer in 1993, 1994 and 1995, Bougnol won the 1992 SEC Coaches' Fall Classic crown, earning her the SEC Individual Champion title for the 1992-93 campaign.
Bougnol, who was ranked nationally in both doubles and singles all four years, received the ITA South Region Rookie of the Year award in 1993. She followed that rookie season by winning the 1993 SkyTel National Clay Court title in Jackson, Miss. During her career, she was twice awarded the ITA Tennis Match Magazine Rolex South Region Arthur Ashe Jr. Sportsmanship and Leadership Award, and was a finalist for the national award in 1995.
As a senior, Bougnol became the first Lady Rebel tennis performer to receive the Eugenia Conner Award, given annually to the University of Mississippi's Most Outstanding Female Student-Athlete. She was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll in 1994, 1995 and 1996, and was selected to the GTE/CoSIDA District VI Academic All-America Team in 1996. Bougnol was awarded a $5,000 NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship and completed her doctoral degree at Ole Miss.
"I am very honored and pleased to have been selected for induction into the Ole Miss Athletic Hall of Fame," said Bougnol. "I just went out every day and played to the best of my ability. Being honored with a distinction like this was never something that entered my mind, I just wanted to play my best every day."
Kyle Gordon paced the Rebel baseball squad during his tremendous career as a first baseman from 1984-87. Gordon, a native of Jackson, Miss., proved his play early with stellar numbers as a freshman. In that rookie campaign, Gordon led the Rebels in games played, home runs, RBIs and game-winning RBIs. He was second on the team in batting average, and tied a school record with three homers in a game against Mississippi College. For his efforts as a freshman, Gordon was named to All-SEC West team. Gordon continued his steady play in 1985 when he led the squad in batting average, homers and RBIs. His 15 home runs in 1985 were a school single-season record and stood for 10 years until 1995.
Following the 1985 season, Gordon was named All-SEC West for a second straight year and also earned All-SEC accolades. In his final two seasons, he batted over .300 each campaign, combined for 20 home runs and 77 RBIs, and was named All-SEC in 1986. Gordon's name still appears on several career and single-season charts in the Ole Miss record book, including career lists for home runs (1st with 48), RBIs (1st with 168), slugging percentage (2nd at .641) and hits (7th with 218) and season lists for home runs (5th with 15), RBIs (8th with 54) and slugging percentage (4th at .728).
In the classroom, Gordon's accomplishments were just as impressive. He was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll all four years from 1984-87 and earned Academic All-America accolades in 1985 and 1986.
"I can't believe I have been selected to be a part of such a prestigious group of people as those who have already been selected for the Athletic Hall of Fame," Gordon said. "I feel blessed to know that I was considered and selected to be a part of this group. So many phenomenal athletes have gone before me in being chosen for this honor. It's a great feeling to be included in the Athletic Hall of Fame."
Kimsey O'Neal Cooper helped lead the Lady Rebel basketball charge from 1987-90. During her four seasons wearing the Red & Blue, Ole Miss compiled an impressive 94-30 record and made four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances that included one trip to the Elite Eight (1989) and three to the Sweet Sixteen (1987, 1988, 1990). The Lady Rebels also finished ranked in the final national polls all four seasons, finishing No. 8 in 1986-87, No. 12 in 1987-88 and 1988-89 and No. 24 in 1989-90.
O'Neal Cooper made her mark on the program from the time she first suited up in 1986-87. In her rookie season, she earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors and was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team. She followed up her outstanding freshman season with All-SEC first team honors as a sophomore in 1988 and as a junior in 1989. O'Neal Cooper was named to the All-SEC second team, and also received NCAA Tournament All-West Region honors her senior year in 1990. She finished her career ranked on the career charts in scoring (8th with 1,480 points), blocked shots (4th with 92) and games played (6th with 124).
O'Neal also earned honors off the court. She was voted Miss Ole Miss by the student body in 1990 and was named to Who's Who at Ole Miss. The Carthage, Miss., native also earned Who's Who Among American Colleges and Universities distinction.
"Wow. That's the only word that comes to mind when I think about being selected for this honor," O'Neal said. "It means a lot to me and my family, especially after what people went through to support me in my time at Ole Miss - the travel, the hours and such. It's a great compliment to know all that hard work on the court was appreciated."
Ralph Spry leaped his way on to the national collegiate track and field scene as a member of the Ole Miss squad in 1982 and 1983. His final year at Ole Miss in 1983 proved to be his best, winning both the SEC Indoor and Outdoor long jump titles and the NCAA Outdoor long jump crown. The Baltimore, Md., native also won the prestigious Penn Relays long jump championship that same year, and Track and Field News ranked Spry fifth in the United States and seventh in the world in the long jump. His efforts in the long jump at the 1983 SEC Indoor Championships helped the Ole Miss men's squad to a third-place team finish, the best in school history.
Following the 1983 collegiate season, he competed in the long jump competition at the World University Games, held in West Germany, and won the silver medal. In 1982, Spry placed sixth in the long jump at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. For his top-eight finishes in the long jump at the 1982 and 1983 NCAA Championships, he earned All-America accolades, becoming the first track and field performer in school history to take home the honor.
During his career, Spry set school records for the long and triple jumps (both indoor and outdoor) and was a member of the record-holding 4x100 meter relay. He held both the indoor and outdoor long jump marks - which he set in 1983 - for 18 years until 2001, and is now second on both lists (25-7 indoor; 27-5 1/2 outdoor). Off the track, Spry was active in the Army ROTC and went into active duty following graduation. He was also named Who's Who at Ole Miss.
"It's very special to be a part of a group like the Athletic Hall of Fame," said Spry. "It's not something you really think about being named to when you are competing as an athlete, you just go out and compete. Looking back now, it's a great group to be a part of and I feel tremendously honored to be included in this group."
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